The Ocracoke Sanitary District on Water Plant Road. Photo: C. Leinbach

Editor’s note: Oct. 21 is the sixth annual Imagine A Day Without Water as water leaders across the country call for greater investment in our critical water systems, and showcase innovative policies and investments to ensure safe, affordable and sustainable water service for all.

Candidates for the Ocracoke Sanitary District, which provides Ocracoke’s water and is locally known as the “water plant,” will be on the Nov. 3 General Election ballot. Voters may vote for two. Scott Bradley’s name is on the ballot and there is a space for a write-in candidate. Regina O’Neal Boor, who has been on the board for six years, is running as a write-in candidate as are a couple of others.

Below, Bradley offers a statement about the district’s work and Boor’s candidacy:

I was appointed to the Ocracoke Sanitary District (OSD) board of commissioners in June 2003 to replace Cuyler Heath and re-elected by Ocracoke voters in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016. I was elected chairman by the board in January 2010 when Bob Touey resigned and moved off-island. I am on the ballot for re-election now in 2020.

Scott Bradley

Sanitary districts (SDs) are government entities with broad statutory powers to provide water, septic and sewage; collect garbage and waste; establish fire, rescue, and ambulance services, and tax within the district to provide these services.  Our SD includes all of Ocracoke Village. While SDs are empowered to provide most services that any local government can provide (except policing), we just provide safe, reliable water.

Our water plant provides two to eight million gallons per month (seasonal fluctuations), or 48 to 50 million gallons per year, to more than 1,200 residential and 185 business customers. Storage capacity is more than a half million gallons.

As all not-for-profit boards, we have a legal covenant with IRS allowing us to pay no taxes on income. In exchange, oversight from a board of community representatives affirms and protects the public’s interest, oversees adherence to federal, state, and IRS laws and regulations, and cannot receive any personal gain.

Our board meets monthly to set policies for the staff of five, establish rules and regulations, and to manage and review finances. A few major activities of the board:

  • Oversaw $2.2 million plant expansion to increase reverse osmosis capacity by 500 impacts in the fall 2010 through a USDA grant & loan. At that time, the water plant was at its full legal capacity, and no new water service was available
  • Our water system opened in June 1977. In recent years we have applied for asset inventory and assessment grants from the NC State Water Infrastructure Authorityto analyze our 40+year-old equipment.  We need a new water tower, other equipment that is aging and to analyze 16 miles of underground water delivery infrastructure; plus, develop a plan for the next 40 years. Unfortunately, with the rating system in the grant process, SDs are rarely approved due to our small service capacities. We have another application pending.
  • Manage annual budget of $900,000 to $1 million. The biggest items are salaries and health insurance benefits, insurance, FHA bond payments, electricity, plant operations.
  • Set rates: we use “full cost pricing” guidelines from UNC School of Government Environmental Finance Center to be financially self-sufficient; cover costs of daily operations (maintenance, repairs, operate system), save for capital improvements; balance this with affordability and promote conservation. Our three-tiers rate structure tries to do this with the challenge of operating for peak demand with seasonal variations. The costs of plant operations are the same, whether in high or low seasonal usage.
  • Our finances and audit are reviewed annually by the Local Government Commission within N.C. Treasurer’s Office. As a board, we review checks and bank statements monthly, and all checks are signed by two board members.

I am happy to continue my service if approved by Ocracoke voters. I believe in contributing to one’s community. And, besides, what else would I do late afternoons on the second Tuesday of each month, after 17 years…?

The other current board members are Flavia Burton, Bill Caswell and Ronnie O’Neal, all elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018.

Regina O’Neal Boor

Regina O’Neal Boor was appointed in December 2014. Her term also expires this year, and she is running as a write-in candidate as her name is not on the ballot. She has been a dedicated, astute member of the board and brings extra experience, knowledge and focus to financial matters and budgets, and all the minutiae involved.

For Ocracoke ballots: To vote for Regina, you will need to write-in “Regina O’Neal Boor” on the write-in line on the ballot and be sure to darken the circle beside her name. See sample ballot below.